Thursday, February 10, 2011

Descent for the sake of ascent

Former NY Congressman Chris Lee (R)

Yesterday, New York Congressman Christopher Lee (R-NY26) resigned from office, after the social gossip website Gawker publicized e-mails and pictures that Lee, who is married, had exchanged with another woman. Hours after news of the scandal occupied newsmakers around the country, Lee issued a submitted his resignation statement:
It has been a tremendous honor to serve the people of Western New York. I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents. I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness...The challenges we face in Western New York and across the country are too serious for me to allow this distraction to continue, and so I am announcing that I have resigned my seat in Congress effective immediately.
In Chasidic thought, everything that happens in the world contains a lesson for our own relationship with Hashem. In Judaism, there is a principle that no matter what a person has done, the way of teshuva is always open. We must believe in the power within ourselves and within others of complete transformation, no matter what darkness surrounds us. This is the freedom that God places within the human being, freedom that can bring one to the depths, but also to the heights, even after one has already experienced the depths.

What does it mean that a person can always do teshuva? The key is that a person must not let his mind fool himself, that what he has already done, or the bad qualities he has, should prevent him from starting anew in this very moment. Because only God knows the secret of yeridah l'tzorech aliyah - descent for the sake of ascent - that it is precisely the leap from the depths to the heights that God desires. We are not angels; we are constantly falling in the mud and trying to get out of the mud, and no matter where we find ourselves, we must always look for the rope that reaches down into the very place we are, that hints to us, there's only up from here.
If a person feels in the dumps, his soul aching from all his moral failings and various mistakes, such that he cannot in his current state pick himself up and do what he needs to do, such as learn Torah, or fulfill commandments, in the world, and in the company of others, with a settled and joyful spirit, then he needs to take note, that his remorseful heart makes him in that moment a complete baal teshuva -- one who has gone from the depths to the heights -- and therefore his level is already very high, and he can put his mind at ease and return his natural state of joy, and occupy himself with all the good, without reservation, with a settled spirit and a joyful heart, for 'Good and honest is God' (Psalm 25).
- Adapted from Orot HaTeshuva 14:24 by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook

אם אדם נשפל כ"כ בדעתו, עד שמרוב מרירות נפשו על עוצם ירידתו המוסרית, בכל חטאתיו, איננו יכול להרים ראש לעסוק בתורה ובמצות, בישובו של עולם ובחברת הבריות, במנוחה ושמחת נפש בריאה, צריך הוא לשים אל לבו, כי מדכאות לב כזאת על כל עונותיו הרי הוא ודאי באותה שעה בעל-תשובה גמור, וא"כ כבר שגבה מעלתו, ויוכל להניח דעתו ולשוב לשמחתו וחדות רוחו ולעסוק בכל הטוב מתוך לב שקט ושמח, כי טוב וישר ה' - אורות התשובה י"ד כ"ג

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your interest! Please join the conversation:

Discuss with other readers in real-time